BC Launches Special Education Program
To meet the needs of school systems across the region and to assist students who desire to work with children and adolescents who have special needs, the Bluefield College Teacher Education Program has added Special Education: General Curriculum K-12 to its degree programs offered for teacher licensure.

BC Launches Special Education Program

By Chris Shoemaker | May 25, 2012 | RSS

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Special Education

Teacher Education Director Donna Watson (right) in the classroom with BC teacher education students.


According to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), special education is the teaching position that is most difficult to fill with qualified applicants. In fact, it is number one on the critical teaching shortage area list published by the VDOE.


“Unfortunately, there are not enough teachers with a special education endorsement to fill all the positions in school systems today,” said Dr. Donna Watson,” director of BC’s Teacher Education Program. “We hope to contribute to a solution by graduating highly qualified teachers in special education and in regular education with a special education endorsement.”

Through Bluefield College’s new special education program, students may obtain a teaching license for special education by completing the requirements for a bachelor of science (BS) degree in interdisciplinary studies with a minor in special education, along with student teaching in an inclusion or resource classroom.

For students who are in the BS degree program for elementary education, they may add the special education endorsement to their Virginia license by completing three additional courses and half their student teaching in a special education placement. And, if students are in a secondary licensure program, they may add special education through five additional courses. Current teacher education students just learning about the new special education program at Bluefield are already taking advantage of the dual-licensure opportunity.

“After being in inclusion and special education classrooms, I am very excited about student teaching,” said Bethany Liddle, a rising BC senior from Galax, Virginia. “I am confident that I have made the right career choice.”

Liddle will be BC’s first student to earn a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with licensure in both elementary grades PreK-12 and special education: general curriculum K-12 when she graduates in December 2012. Hannah Spicer-Owens, a rising teacher education senior from Bluefield, Virginia, will be the first to receive the special education license along with a secondary teaching field when she graduates in the spring of 2013.

“Getting endorsed in special education will help me reach my students more effectively,” said Spicer-Owens, an English major who will earn a license to teach English 6-12 along with the special education endorsement. “In the realm of education, why wouldn’t you want to know how to address all of your students’ needs?”

Adding special education to an existing licensure program can still be accomplished in the typical four-year plan. In addition, for teachers who are teaching on a provisional license in Virginia, Bluefield College can provide the course work to complete the requirements for full licensure.

All students in the Teacher Education Program at Bluefield College are required to take a special education course, “Introduction to the Exceptional Child,” as part of their licensure program. After taking the course, said Dr. Watson, students often feel a calling to work in the classroom with children with disabilities. In addition to field experiences in special education and inclusion classrooms, BC students volunteer for summer opportunities to work with students with disabilities at places like TASK (Taking Action for Special Kids), a day program for children with disabilities in Tazewell County.


April Workman joins full time faculty to lead BC's new special education program.


Teacher Education web page.

“I’m delighted that Bluefield College will now offer special education in addition to its many elementary and secondary licensure programs,” said Dr. Watson. “The new special education program will provide a wonderful opportunity for our pre-service teachers to gain the knowledge and skills they need not only to help students with disabilities reach above and beyond their potential, but also to increase their opportunities for a teaching job.”

Joining BC’s full-time education faculty to spearhead the special education program this fall will be April Workman, a longtime special education teacher for Tazewell (VA) County Schools, who holds a bachelor’s degree in education for the deaf and hard of hearing and a master’s degree in special education. Workman, who is also certified to teach children with autistic spectrum disorders, will be teaching BC’s special education courses, along with advising and supervising pre-service teachers who seek the special education endorsement.

“I am very excited for the opportunity to help launch this special education program,” said Workman, who is pursuing her Ph.D. this summer at Virginia Tech. “There is always a need for qualified and knowledgeable special education teachers in all areas. I am certain that the high expectations of the Bluefield College Teacher Education Program will produce educators with these characteristics. In turn, students with disabilities in our surrounding areas will benefit from additional licensed special education teachers.”



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